Hey all! My first Hey Arnold fiction, and I'm excited to have written it after watching The Jungle Movie. This is mainly about Helga's thoughts during them finally reviving the parents from the sleeping sickness. I added a little of my own towards the end, and I hope you all enjoy! Hey Arnold was my youth growing up, and I'm sure it was for all of you. I could hardly contain myself, I was so excited, haha.
Please read/review. I would love and appreciate it, thank you!
Thoughts in the Jungle
The humidity had climbed dramatically. As Helga clasped her hands together, backing away from the anxiety of the scene as the children cried in their native tongue. The land itself was enchanting, like something she'd read in an old fairy tale Mariam would read to Olga and Helga had managed to overhear. But this was Helga's own fairy tale, one in which she was the heroine. At this point, it mattered very little if she got her prince in the end- he had his own mission to fulfil. This was a story that would carry on from kid generation to kid generation, that was, if any one would believe them.
The soft cries settled within her heart, ears and pigtails drooping in disappointment. Her mind scoured for any potential solution. They were without the gilded heart to solve the puzzle. Her own thumped in her chest as this meant this was the end of the line for Arnold; all this journey and adventure seemed now for naught as his parents laid, as all of their parents laid, in a content dream. This sickness that rendered them useless to their children and initially, she grew angry at the ideology that parents could leave their children that way. Inquiries then flooded why it were only the adults that were affected and not the children. Then again, that too mattered very little now.
"What do we tell them? How do we explain?" Arnold's voice carried the weight of a boy wiser than any adult Helga G. Pataki had ever encountered in her lifetime. Arnold was now responsible for this congregation of children and why their parents weren't going to wake up from their sleep any time soon. Eduardo had begun to string together the native language, the contort of faces caused Helga's eyes to widen softly, slowly as they quickly darted in Arnold's direction.
It was a strange habit of hers. Once she was fixed on him, it was difficult to break away. She reasoned with herself that she was waiting for something great to occur, as many things often did with a boy who possessed as much optimism as Arnold Shortman did. It was one of the many things she loved about him. Helga clutched her locket closer to her budding chest, thankful for Brainy's bravery in returning what she treasured most; shamed in herself that she had let it go out of emotion. She was in love with Arnold, that much had been clear for a good portion of her young life. Love was not something that carried an on/off switch. When love was ready to be done with Helga, then she would move on. Until then, she had no say in the matter of her heart.
And that was all this was over: heart. A pure heart was needed in order to break this curse. She repeatedly glanced between the device that would send the medicine airborne, her locket, and Arnold. Her fingers were beginning to ache from gripping her locket as tightly as she was. The humidity was making everything heavier on Helga, including her decisions and her clear ability to make them.
All of this while she had built such a hardened exterior; a roughness to her own tongue. Her mind had created such a romantic thread of communication that there was a sever in the link between her brain and her mouth: fear of the uncertainty. Fear doted on her like a favored aunt. Coming from lackluster love, noticing the favoritism that wasn't directed towards her and the negligence of a power driven father and an alcoholic mother, both of which suffered a loveless marriage of their own didn't exactly create the perfect mold for Helga to fill. Many of which were fill-in the blanks and Helga didn't have the answer key.
She struggled within herself to make that connection between her mind and her mouth. At some point, once someone understood the dysfunction, to break it and come into her own. Helga yearned to do just that, and she wanted to accomplish that, with the only person to make her feel like she mattered.
Helga had to do this, if not for her, then at least to help Arnold. She needed to help the boy with the cornflower hair no matter what. The locket threatened to slip out of her hands as her mind began to piece together the answer, her hands shaking and slick with sweat caused by her nerves. Never would she out loud admit that she was afraid.
She was tough. She was strong. She was a bold kid.
Helga G. Pataki was terrified that she would screw this up. But she would absolutely hate herself even further for not at least trying. Not after Arnold had helped her all those many years ago by simply holding an umbrella over her head. And now she simply had to assist in her own way. She ran from the temple and to the device, feeling the eyes of Gerald and hearing his voice call after her. Having caught their attention, she heard the footsteps follow her as she stopped at the machine.
"-there's no cure." And then she heard Arnold's voice, determination flooded her senses before hearing the drop of defeat. Oh no, she couldn't stand for that. Once more, her mind and her hands battled one another as her fingers trembled. Reveal the locket. The heart may just be the solution. The heart….her heart.
"I," she hesitated before inwardly taking a breath a courage. "May have something that can help." She opened her palms shakily. "It's a-a heart. I think it could fit. But, it's just gold plated. It's not a very pure heart." The word vomit just would not cease as she felt her lips rambling, groping around for an end. Arnold's eyes were on her now, drinking her in as the potential savior that now he needed. For once the tables were flipped. Helga's initial instinct was to curl within herself, because normally her suggestions fell on deaf ears. But now was her opportunity to be there and save the man she loved.
"I think your heart is more pure than you know." She stiffened at that statement, balking at Arnold as she clutched the locket to her chest, almost protectively. The reality had yet to sink in, as she was simply tasting the acceptance and positive reception. She felt her girlhood tremble, which had begun to form its own mindset, her body processing and communicating the prepubescent notions of a budding young woman. She nearly shivered and offered the locket to him, feeling their hands connect and for that brief instant as she transferred the locket into his possession, she quivered in excitement. At long last, part of her dream of being something to Arnold was coming true.
Not everything ended happily, as Helga was all too aware. But, such as any other young woman, she had dreams and fantasies. Although externally perceived as everyone's worst nightmare, she had heart and she believed that Arnold saw hers, and the more she thought about it, perhaps had seen all along. She felt the gratitude of hope linger in the air as Arnold inserted her locket into the device. And like trying to insert a circle into a square, he struggled to fit the piece. When she realized that the locket required to be angled to fit the point of the locket into the groove in order to work, and that Arnold hadn't, she knew she needed to take over.
"You are such a Football Head," she grunted and adjusted the point to fit the groove, standing back then with him. Everything then a blur as the complex Green-Eyed device took life after several turns of her locket, a part of her had made this a reality as the parents of these children, including Arnold's, were cured.
Like everything else in the land, the world rained green. Butterflies took life and the children danced. The pattering of feet as each child ran towards their parents with absolute delight. And like that, Arnold was gone to find his own. His dreams now became a reality and Helga was satisfied that she was able to help give him that gift.
A celebration was held that evening. Arnold's parents alive and well as the leaders of the Green-Eyed people acknowledged and bowed to the family in their thanks. Like Arnold had saved the neighborhood of Hillwood once before, now Arnold had picked up where his parent's left off. He truly was their son, an explorer, a savior, a bold kid.
While everyone else was distracted praising Arnold and his family, Helga had departed from the celebrations to retrieve her locket from the temple. She picked up a nearby discarded arrow and began to pry her locket from its holding. The stupid thing wouldn't budge, and Helga began to grow frustrated. Even more so that this adventure was coming to an end and life would resume as what was considered their norm. She would go back to being Helga G. Pataki, begin sixth grade at P.S. 118, and return to admiring Arnold from afar. That's the world she knew. She would have plenty of poetry to write about, more monologues to chant from behind dumpsters and around corners where she would invisible, out of sight. The thought brought tears to her eyes, which bubbled and pricked at the corners of her eyes, prying harder behind her locket in hopes it would pop out, but like her feelings for Arnold, it was locked tight. She didn't hear Arnold call after her the first few times until he raised his voice.
She practically jumped as the arrow fell to the ground, the head clattering against the stone. She kicked it idly to the side, as she could see that he was preparing to say something to her. She had to mentally prepare herself for whatever it is he was going to address to her.
"Helga…" He paused. "I've known you my whole life, practically. And you've always been angry, and kind of…mean." He couldn't see her bracing herself, although felt herself get defensive, rather than open to this discussion. He was speaking directly to her, and she couldn't swallow it in fear of rejection.
"Yeah! So what!?" She snapped and Arnold braced himself to press forward. He refused to stop because she had a short fuse.
"I've also seen you be really loyal, and super brave," he continued, her cue to stop and listen to him and her shoulders noticeably dropped. "And so, I was wondering if you were mean to me..." he paused again and she nearly screamed in anticipation. "Because you…" He looked away, already feeling her cheeks begun to burn and her adrenaline to cause her chest to practically burst. "Love me."
He called her out on all of her feelings and packaged them for her in a pink bow. He presented the words to her on a silver platter, which caused her eyes to widen softly. The words leaving his lips alone were a given fortune to her. But here she was, challenged with the truth of her feelings. Helga was often challenged, but over her heart? This was new.
"Love?" And she began to laugh. Again, because of her inability to process this rationally. She was young and had much to discover about love, its aches and splendors. So, she laughed. Mentally screaming at herself, she practically laughed in Arnold's face. "Ha! Sure, like a love a root canal." She quickly retorted, wrapping her arms around her waist to brace and secure herself. This was not the conversation she was expecting to have with him. And now she wished she had handled it better.
But, Arnold didn't react. Instead, he continued to level with her. "Look, I know you tried to tell me before." She felt him bolden himself. Was this a growing experience? "And I wasn't ready to hear it. But now, this whole thing, the trip to San Lorenzo, getting away from La Sombra, my parents, it was all because of you!" He pointed out to her and Helga's pigtails drooped. So, he did notice. "Your locket." To which, again, she grounded herself defensively as the locket finally fell out defiantly to her verbal claims.
"Your locket!" He continued excitedly as he knelt down to pick it up, her hands clasped over her heart protectively. "It. Woke up. My parents!" He repeated to her. "You did it all, just to help me, and…" He trailed off as he clasped her hands, noticing he was as nervous as she was about where all of this was leading to. Helga could have carried this in a variegation of ways, but Arnold leaning forward towards her was only something that could have happened in a fantasy. His eyes were closed, which meant he trusted her and her decision on how to respond. Truly, there was only one way to respond when the boy she was in love with for several years finally began to express his own desire for her.
Helga leaned down, fireworks shooting off in her subconscious as she brushed her lips against his own. The soft lips she had managed to sneakily kiss in the school's rendition of Romeo and Juliet, she had pretended to bring to life in their winnings of their sand castle contest one summer—they were nothing in comparison to the present. This was real, and it was all Helga could have ever hoped for, she practically could have fainted with delight.
Arnold, she felt, began to venture further into their kiss as he began to explore this moment with her. For all she had imagined of this finally transpiring, she internally inquired if Arnold gave any thought of her in this manner prior to this moment. Judging by how confident he seemed, she assumed he had. Helga had so many questions for her football headed god; but right now, she would just simply enjoy this and Arnold. They would always have San Lorenzo.
Helga wondered if this would end as she settled in on their return flight to Hillwood. Big Bob and Miriam lavished Olga with high praise for being so brave in her time of need, and how Bob had handled the bad boy who had hurt his little girl. She rolled her eyes and looked out the window. Mr. Simmons praised his student's for being the tribe he had hoped they would be and that earned a groan from her. A tribe, yeah right. Phoebe was in a heavy conversation with Gerald pertaining to her skill in hotwiring Rhonda's phone to bridge communication, while Arnold was tucked away in the back of the plane with his parents, being loved and catching up on all they had missed. Helga could hear the apologies from where she sat. Helga heard a lot from her place by the window.
If this was a dream, Helga considered this to be the greatest dream of her natural young life. With everything still fresh in her mind, she would be sure to write it all down as she began a dreamy internal monologue to herself as she looked out of the window, the clouds taking shape of Arnold's head. The kiss fresh to memory, all of the adventurous memories locked away in her heart where no one could take them from her.
"Oh my love, a kiss finally shared between the two of us—it was everything I had dreamed. Did you raid my innermost desires and decide to bring them forth to life just for me in return of finding your lost parents? I'd have done it, regardless of the gift you have spoiled me with. Although, I am glad now that you see how much you mean to me, and how much I mean to you. But, most importantly, how you feel about me. That you lo-"
"Helga?" She didn't hear Arnold's footsteps approach her. Everyone was supposed to have remained seated while the plane was in motion, with the exception of Mr. Simmons, who rose a handful of times to tend to Curly who threatened to use the overheard oxygen masks and swing from the tubes when Rhonda refused to kiss him or acknowledge her own feelings for her. Rhonda had her own triangle between Curly and Harold that she would never publically address.
"Arnold, my-" Her eyes perked up as her head jerked towards him, blinking desperately to come to her senses. "Football head!" He merely smiled and sat across from her. This was no dream, especially when he reached to take her hands. Her love struck tone dimmed as she captured the seriousness of the moment. He came to her, but his parents were back yonder.
"But what about your parents?" She understood that he would have been too engrossed to even bat an eye her way, but here he was, sitting across from her and holding her hands.
"You're important, too. None of this would have been possible without you." Arnold would never stop thanking her, she realized. Like her, he didn't know how else to express himself. She felt him squeeze her hands, to which she glanced down at them. Their hands fit together perfectly.
"But-" Helga began to protest, her mind threatening to use Old Betsey on herself if she tried to keep from being happy. She had to begin to remind herself that she deserved to be happy. She deserved Arnold.
"My parents aren't going anywhere," Arnold lowered his voice, almost as if he were trying to convince himself, though thankful of this truth. The entirely of the adventure was so much for someone young to have endured and Arnold had accomplished the large feat. "We have time now, I just can't believe they're here."
"But, I'm not going anywhere, either," Helga replied bravely, taking the moment seriously and swallow back her defenses; to let her hair down. She could drop them now. She knew that Arnold wouldn't take advantage or hurt her, Arnold had too pure of a heart for that. And that was when she felt his grip tighten on her hands.
"Good." His voice faltered gently, as though he was still trying to process that all of this had actually happened and keep himself from crying. Perhaps he was with her now because he needed to separate himself, take a step back and observe from a distance. Too much of a good thing, that kind of thing. Whatever thing it was, Helga was beside herself with joy that he sought her out for comfort out of everyone. Not Gerald, not Phoebe, he chose her. Helga felt herself soften a bit.
"Stay as long as you'd like, Football Head." The nickname had become a borderline term of endearment for her that Arnold granted her a small smile.
And to Helga's surprise, it didn't end. Helga walked beside Phoebe, who normally spoke of the last great novel she read that she felt Helga would appreciate, instead spoke of Gerald and how he had asked her out to see a movie 'sometime' and proceeding to question when this 'sometime' would be, excited about the newness of the adventure with Gerald she was about to embark on. Was this what growing up was about? Boys and trying to figure them out?
"Guess there's one way to find out," Helga muttered to herself as they reached the corner, meeting Arnold and Gerald as Gerald reached for Phoebe's hand and Phoebe herself uttered a squeak; something usually so out of character for the sensible and rational best friend of hers. As Helga was in the spiral of her own thoughts, she felt that familiar tug of Arnold's hand in hers. He wanted her attention and to hold her hand. Out of surprise, Helga snapped her hand from his.
"Who said you could touch me!?" Catching a partially hurt glimpse of her beloved. Promising herself that she would work on that part of her, she assumed some things would never change. She didn't wish to take advantage of Arnold's patience with her, wishing she could take the moment back and indulge in his touch. There was time. Arnold wasn't going anywhere, and neither was she.